My Food Journey

Whether I’m cooking at home or going out for a nice meal, nothing brings me more pleasure than eating with my loved ones. From a young age I remember always wanting to help my mum cook in the kitchen, and when she was working late shifts as a nurse me and my sister would cook together too. I think one of the first meals I learnt to cook was Ratatouille. I always wanted to chop the mushrooms, peal the veg and annoy my mum with my questions about food. I always fondly remember my mum cooking honey and mustard chicken, vegetable curries and her infamous roast dinners as well. She was the type of mum who would be serving up dinner the minute you entered the door from school, and I loved her so much for that! I will always remember walking home with my sister and trying to guess what would be for dinner that day.

With mums help, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a chef but I was really scared about the training involved and the equipment, so I over-thought about it and instead, I stayed safe and chose to study Business. Although, I continued to grow my interest in cooking from the comfort of my own kitchen.

When I moved out for University I think one of the first things I made for my housemates was Fajitas, which I continued to live off of through my first year. Cooking whilst at University was always a bit of a struggle though. I enjoyed cooking but everything had to be on a tight budget. I mainly led a vegetarian diet and I ordered A LOT of pizza from our local takeaway.

It wasn’t until I moved in with my boyfriend during 2016 that things really changed and my confidence in the kitchen began to come to light, partly because I had more money in a new job, and also because I had someone who I was excited to cook for. Some of my favourite dishes to cook for us include Thai salmon curry, lasagne, carbonara and sausage & mash.

Unfortunately having someone to cook for and more expendable income to buy ingredients can impact our health negativity though, as it’s often difficult to find a good balance between eating rich food and living a healthy lifestyle, something I’ve been battling against for some time now. I always cook with lots of vegetables and eat a lot of fish but, me and my partner have a big sweet tooth and eat a lot of sugary treats too. I’m also a sucker for making big portions, which means my plates are usually overcrowded or we go back for second helpings. Also, I love sides! If I’m making a stir fry I almost always have to have some spring rolls and/or prawn crackers, and if I make anything Italian we need to have garlic bread too. Is this a dilemma in other households or is it just me being greedy??

Having said that, things are changing and I’m not sure how it will impact the way we eat long term. I’ve taken a new job which means I’m working 12 hour shifts and won’t be cooking dinner everyday like I used to. My plan is to cook meals in bulk  by utilising my slow cooker, meaning we can both have a home cooked dinner even on days when I’m working. This isn’t something I’ve managed to achieve yet but, I’m planning to start this Sunday with a big comforting cottage pie.

I should also note that, I’m already seeing positive changes in my cooking on the days I have off during the week. I’m able to take more time and care in the kitchen to rustle up our weekly favorites, and experiment with new dishes too. It’s nice having the time to do a big food shop without rushing around after work too, as I’ve been able to pick ingredients more carefully.

It’s just been so good to have more freedom. Long term I feel this change in routine will have such a positive impact on my happiness, my relationship, and my skills as a cook, which of course is amazing news! For an example, as we all know it was Valentines Day on the 14th, a great excuse for me to try out a new dish at home. I think I might have mentioned in my previous post reviewing Bill’s Diner that I wanted to try steak and really enjoyed theirs. So, I thought it was about time I tried to recreate my own version at home and to be honest, I think it might have been just as good, if not better!

img_2347

I cooked my version of healthy chips by cutting my potatoes in to thick wedges, par boiling them for 5 minutes before sticking them in the oven with a spray of fry light on each. I rotated them after 15 minutes and sprayed more fry light on the other sides. I think in total I baked them for 30/40 mins at 200 until golden brown.

For the steak, I was aiming to cook it to medium. I again used more fry light, I sprinkled a little pepper on each side, and cooked on each side for 3 minutes. I used the BBC Food guidlines to help me on how to cook the perfect steak. I ignored the recipe but half way down the page they note the following…

  • Blue: About 1½ mins each side
  • Rare: About 2¼ mins each side
  • Medium-rare: About 3¼ mins each side
  • Medium: About 4½ mins each side

I paired my steak and chips with fancy long stemmed broccoli and a peppercorn sauce. Unfortunately I didn’t cook the sauce myself, as I totally forgot to buy the ingredients but, I will definitely attempt to next time because there will be a next time! I know it’s an easy dish to some but I’d never made either of the main components before and I was so so pleased with the results, as was my boyfriend.

I also recently made a ricotta baked chocolate cheesecake. I glanced at a recipe whilst in the supermarket shopping for ingredients but didn’t really follow it when I got home. I remembered my mums amazing baked chocolate cheesecakes from when I was a teenager, and just went with my instincts from there. It was simple really. I literally just added three tubs of ricotta cheese into a bowl with two egg yolks, 100g of caster sugar and 275g of melted dark chocolate. For the base, I melted 50g of butter with half a packet of crushed digestive biscuits and pushed it all to the bottom of a cake tin, added the cheesecake mix and baked for an hour at 150.

img_2373

I feel like my food journey is only just beginning to grow and I’m incredibly excited about my future food ambitions. I’m hoping to master the art of the perfect yorkshire pudding, bake the perfect cake and figure out how the hell to make a poached egg amongst many other things! Feel free to read the full list on my 2018 goals post and I hope you all continue to read about my many cooking successes and failures to come.

Carbonara Overload at Prezzo

If you happened to read my last blog post, you might be aware that I’ve been having a little panic about what the hell I’m doing with my career and how I’m going to spend time with my loved ones.

It’s hard to fit everyone in and around conflicting work schedules but, we all try our best to make it work. Whether it’s due to finances, laziness or lack of free evenings, me and my boyfriend rarely go out for dinner either.  But, we decided to visit Prezzo last Friday night thanks to a lovely £40 gift voucher as one of my work leaving presents. We were both a little tired but planned on having dinner followed by a few drinks to wind down from a long week.

The night started off with our taxi being 15 mins late and me pacing up and down the sitting room impatiently waiting. From then on the night went sort of downhill. Nothing went horrendously wrong but we weren’t all that talkative, our food was relatively mediocre and we ended up coming home around 10.

I hate to be critical but, I’d never been to Prezzo before so, my expectations were pretty high. Knowing that they have a prime spot at Royal William Yard and lots of venues across the UK, to me meant that their Italian food must be pretty damn special.

Classic Italian dishes are pretty hard to get wrong I say! I mean, everyone loves a good pizza or hearty bowl of pasta. They are relatively easy dishes to cook at home too but feel really special when cooked with high quality restaurant ingredients you might not have in your kitchen cupboards.

So, what did I order you ask?

I chose the chicken and wild mushroom ravioli with a carbonara like sauce, paired with a tall glass of Rose wine. The dish was pretty yummy but I was slightly peeved that my pasta bowl had sauce on the rim, which should have been wiped off before serving surely? I’m just being picky but presentation is important. Also, the chicken and mushroom filling wasn’t particularly strong which was a shame.

We both must love carbonara and so, my boyfriend ordered the Prestigio chicken and mushroom carbonara pizza however, we both felt it tasted more like breakfast. The pizza was lacking in sauce and the richness you would find in this great classic pasta dish. It was simply overwhelmed with the taste of two fried eggs and, I know it’s supposed to be a twist on the recipe but, maybe it was too much.

IMG_2128IMG_2126

I wouldn’t say I’d never go back to Prezzo but it definitely wouldn’t be my first choice. We both love Italian food and it’s a cuisine I regularly cook at home, which added to the disappointment. I’m just glad that we had gift vouchers, else I would have been really disappointed to have had to pay £53 for our dinner. Maybe next time I’ll order something more exciting. Lots of other dishes caught my eye, so maybe I just ordered the wrong one.

Simply putting this failed evening down to tiredness on our part, a bad taxi driver and carbonara overload in all the wrong ways.